By Michael Stever
(Video Filmed & Edited By Michael Stever}
The historic Pierre Hotel hosted an impressive cavalcade of stars last night as the National Corporate Theatre Fund (NCTF) honored Tony and Emmy Award Winning singer and actress Kristin Chenoweth, and the Edgerton Foundation for their leadership in the theatre arts at the NCTF 2014 Chairman’s Awards Gala.
The event raised an unprecedented $815,000 for new theatrical works at NCTF’s member theaters, which includes a generous matching grant of of $250,000 from honoree The Edgerton Foundation.
“We define success as when a play gets produced over and over again across the country. Our goal with NCTF matching grant for new works is to help playwrights, production teams and theaters create new dramatic works that will become part of the American theater fabric and entertain audiences across the country for generations to come,” said Brad Edgerton, co-director of the foundation with his wife Louise Edgerton. “Live theater is a shared wonderful experience. Let’s keep theater going strong in this country!”
When asked how she felt about being brought into the NCTF fold, Chenoweth beamed and blushed. “It is an honor to be recognized as NCTF’s Theatre Artist Award winner this year,” noted Chenoweth. “I’ve worked at theaters they represent like The Guthrie & Goodspeed, so I’m just so honored to be included with this league, and especially one of such historical distinction.”
Chenoweth was in good company as more than 300 theater patrons, Broadway leaders and industry professionals from across the country gathered for an evening honoring individuals and institutions that have made significant contributions to the national theater community, and an exciting program of performances and special appearances commenced.
The evening included a special performance by Tony Award Winner Jefferson Mays and Bryce Pinkham, stars of the current hit musical A Gentleman‘s Guide to Love and Murder; an excerpt from the highly acclaimed musical Witness Uganda, which just finished a successful run at A.R.T. (an NCTF member theatre). An exciting opening number, created by Kevin Duda and Jason Michael Snow (of the recent viral explosion, Russian Broadway Shut down), will feature a talented team of performers from television, film and theatre:- including Greg Hildreth, Jessica Hershberg, Alison Cimmet, Connor Gallagher, Kevin Duda, Rashidra Scott, Tommar Wilson, Jason Michael Snow, Michael Campayno. Other performers and presenters featured and in attendance include Diane Paulus, Mary Mitchell Campbell, Matt Gould, Griffin Matthews, Jessica Herschberg, Tyrone Davis Jr., Rodrick Covington, Nicolette Robinson, Jamard Richardson, Aisha jackson, Senfuab Stoney, Michael Luwoye, Adelola Role, Kevin Curtis, Jamar Wiliams, Allison Blackwell, Mary Bridget Davies, Judy Kaye, Regina Taylor, Jim Newman, Sheldon Harnick, Charles Randolph Wright, Santino Fontana, Darko Tresnjak, Elizabeth A. Davis, David Henry Hwang, Dana Brunetti, Richard Easton, Theodore H. Nixon, Jennifer Bielstein, Joshua Borenstein, Edward Rada, Joe Kirk and many more.
Prolific actress and comedian of the stage and screen Kathy Najimy, was joined by her daughter – singer Samia Najimy Finnerty, and gave a special tribute to Kristin Chenoweth. Legendary funny lady, and beloved comedian LilyTomlin delivered a special salute to departing NCTF Board Member and Seattle Rep Managing Director Benjamin Moore. And Mays and Pinkham performed “Better With a Man“ accompanied by composer Steven Lutvak at the piano. A Gentleman‘s Guide to Love and Murder was developed and performed at two of NCTF’s theaters, Hartford Stage and Old Globe, before becoming a recent hit on Broadway.
NCTF member theaters include the Actors Theatre of Louisville, American Conservatory Theater, American Repertory Theater, Center Theatre Group, Cleveland Play House, Guthrie Theater, Long Warf Theatre, The Old Globe, Seattle Repertory Theatre and Trinity Repertory Company. Their Affiliate Network includes The Alley Theatre, Alliance Theatre, Arena Stage, Dallas Theatre Center, Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Goodman Theater, Hartford Stage, Manhattan Theatre Club, and Walnut Street Theatre.
The gala will raise funds for NCTF’s ten nonprofit member theaters in the U.S. Proceeds will be generously matched with a challenge grant of up to $250,000 from the Edgerton Foundation which will benefit new theatrical works at NCTF’s member theatres, ensuring the creation of another year of innovative and thought-provoking productions nationwide.